The volunteers who staff the James L. Noller Safety Center have a message for the community -- if a crime occurs, even a small one, report it.
"We're here. We're here to serve the community, and people need to use us," said Jacque Villa, a member of Volunteers in Partnership with the Sheriff. "Minor crimes should be reported. You might not think it's important, but crimes grow. ... The more stats that come out of Rancho Murieta, the more sheriff's attention we will get."
She encouraged residents to report vandalism incidents, including a dollar estimate and photos. "Pictures of the damage are excellent so we can include them in our report," Villa said.
VIPS are trained by the Sheriff's Department to take crime reports. Pat Carroll recalled that learning to take reports occupied two-and-half days of VIPS training, more time than any other class. Classroom instruction was followed by hours of required on-the-job training at the Sheriff's Department East Division headquarters in Rancho Cordova.
VIPS Pat Carroll and Jacque Villa review a police report they took from a resident at the James L. Noller Safety Center.
VIPS can take police reports for vandalism, burglary, harassment and other crimes over the phone, Villa said. Although the center is only open Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. due to limited staffing, the phones are checked during the week and messages are returned promptly, she said. The safety center numbers are 354-8509 and 354-8511.
The safety center opened two years ago in a trailer located across the parking lot from the Community Services District Building. Although the center has office space for the Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol, the VIPS and CSD Security are the only occupants at present.
Villa, Carroll and two other Murieta VIPS, Hal Coburn and Ron Squires, work at the center in pairs, as required by the Sheriff's Department.
During a recent shift, Carroll and Villa received two crime reports and took the VIPS vehicle out to patrol the community.
One of the crime reports the VIPS received was for vandalism, a chronic problem that some residents say has recently become more destructive.
Last year the Community Services District established a standing reward of $1,000 for information about crimes committed in the community. The policy was prompted by spray-paint vandalism at the new pedestrian bridge soon after it opened.
Although there was a public outcry about the defacing of the bridge, many wonder if Rancho Murieta's level of crime is worth reporting.
"I can't imagine that the Sheriff's Department is going to care very much about vandalism in Rancho Murieta," a resident told the CSD board last month.
"Once we get them out here, that's part of a community issue," Security Chief Greg Remson responded.
CSD board members made the point that residents should inform both Security and the Sheriff's Department when vandalism and other crimes occur. Security can be reached at 354-CARE or 354-3743.